Chaos as Malaysian State Assemblypersons tussle for control of state

(AFP) – A Malaysian state assembly descended into chaos on Wednesday as the government and opposition escalated a tussle for control, with legislators holding duelling sessions and issuing rival motions.

Perak state has been in political limbo since February, when the Barisan Nasional coalition, which rules nationally, tried to oust the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance which won the state in general elections last year.

After defections cost the Pakatan Rakyat the balance of power, the state sultan ordered it to quit but it refused, leading to a prolonged standoff.

Hundreds of police and riot squad officers were deployed at the state parliament Wednesday as it reconvened for the second time since the controversy.

The building was blocked off with barbed-wire barricades and those entering were scanned using metal detectors, media reports said. Some opposition members said they were stopped from entering the building and assaulted.

“This is a great shame for democracy,” state Pakatan Rakyat leader Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin told AFP.

“They just want to bulldoze through the sitting to legitimise their government. They even tried to snatch the speaker’s robe and songkok (a ceremonial cap),” he said, vowing to file police complaints.

News website Malaysiakini said the meeting turned into a three-hour shouting match when the two rival groups declared their own sessions in the same chamber and passed respective motions at the conclusion.

There were also chaotic scenes in May when the state assembly was convened for the first time since the political controversy, unleashing open conflict as legislators brawled and hurled insults.

The opposition’s speaker was forcibly removed from his chair and dragged out of the parliament, triggering a melee as legislators tried to shield him.